The capital above the capital

Rabat | December 31, 2015

Oi, Dolma,

as we swig this old chyāng

from this ancestral bhatti of yours,


let’s dance, you and I also,

Gangnam Style.


As it is your flushed face

needs no disco lights.

You who grew slender with the bamboo grove at the back

need no pencil heels.

Your arms scratched

while picking gurāns and ainselu

need not be marked with a trendy tattoo.


The gunyo that you never got to change out of –


Its hem has inched above your sixteen-year-old knees,

and suits you as well as any skirt.

The cholo that came with your gunyo –


It already bares your navel where the kid goat plays

and looks as good as any designer top.


Oi, Dolma,

Oi, silly girl,

Don’t be shy!



let’s sit beneath this sky

strung with nine hundred thousand lights

and drink bowls of this old chyāng

and to each other,

let us too say – “Ai – la – pyou”.


As it is,

the hilltop where you swing and play,

or you –

are no lower than a many-storied palace.



From here,

how far down it seems – that Dharahara there,

how far down it seems – that Ghantaghar clock tower,

how far down they are – those palaces, whatever they’re called.


Oi, Dolma!


Better still,

Climb this kāfal tree and look!


It seems the size of the dhungri on your ear, that capital there,

and we who stand on the hills that surround it

are at its service, tasked with its safekeeping –

look like nothing but guards from there

look like nothing but porters from there

look like nothing but slaves from there.


Oi, Dolma!

Oi, my love!


As we swig this old chyāng

from this ancestral bhatti of yours,


let us shout out loud:

We, too, are masters and mistresses of this place,

We, too, have a capital just like yours.



This translation by Jemima Sherpa and Shraddha Ghale is of the eponymous poem from the anthology Rajdhani Mastirako Rajdhani


One response to “The capital above the capital”

  1. Tina Shrestha says:

    Beautiful poem that speaks to heart. La.Lit should do more!

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